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A Dange Alcoholic Energy Drinks: A Risky Mix By John Cloud If you have never heard of the popular alcoholic energy drinks, you are almost certainly over 25. Sold in tall, narrow cans, they carry hip names such as Sparks, Tilt and Joose. Like other flavored malt beverages — Mike’s Hard Lemonade, for one, or Champale (“the malt liquor you serve like champagne”) from back in the ‘60s — alcoholic energy drinks contain a lot of sugar and flavoring. The difference is that this new generation of malt beverages also contains stimulants. A ordinary can has about as much caffeine as a venti cup of Starbucks, along with additives like guarana and ginseng that can rev the nervous system. That is what made public health safety and police law enforcement officials worried. Though flavored malt beverages make up less than 2% of alcohol servings in the U.S., alcohol-policy experts have long worried that many of those servings are consumed by minors who

have no palate (yet) for real beer. The new alcoholic energy drinks have a further pull on the youth market: the promise that you can get drunk but still party all night because of the caffeine. Quite drunk: Joose, for instance, has the color and approximate flavor of strawberry soda, but it’s 9% alcohol, compared with 5% for a typical can of Budweiser. Law-enforcement officials want tighter regulations on the drinks. Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler, a Democrat who is helping lead a national campaign against the beverages, calls them “disgusting.” He elaborated: “The caffeine is a stimulant that triggers the false impression that kids can drink more and still function normally. The kids won’t recognize they are actually drunk...And then all of a sudden, over a short period of time, it goes Bam, and they’re gone.” Alcoholic energy drinks aren’t just a crime against taste — worse, they trick your brain into believing you’re not as drunk as you are. Bottom line: have a real beer instead.


12% of Alcohol in one Four Loko

erous Cocktail

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Sushi Risks Human infection by Anisakis simplex (herring worm) and other nematodes, or roundworms, is caused by eating certain raw or undercooked fish. Ingestion of the worm can result in severe abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting within hours of ingestion and has been misdiagnosed as appendicitis or other stomach diseases. If the worms don’t get coughed up or vomited out, they can burrow into the walls of your intestines and cause a localized immune response. The worms eventually die and are removed by the immune system. In severe cases, physical removal of the worms by endoscopy or surgery is needed to reduce the pain. They can in rare, severe cases cause anaphylactic shock as well. Albendazole may be used to treat mild cases.


Outbreaks of foodborne illness linked to sushi have most often been caused by Vibrio parahaemolyticus, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella species and Listeria monocytogenes The bacterial species, Vibrio parahaemolyticus has been associated with consumption of raw or undercooked fish and shellfish, particularly oysters. Infection by these bacteria can cause symptoms including diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, headache, fever, and chills. The infection is usually self limiting and typically does not require antibiotics. Another Vibrio species, Vibrio vulnificus, has been found in oysters, clams, and crab. In healthy people, ingestion of this microbe can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain, but in people with liver disease or weakened immune systems, the microbe can enter the bloodstream, causing the life-threatening condition of septicemia. Gastroenteritis from Vibrio vulnificus is rare, but it can happen on occasion.

In Japan, it’s part of the national diet. In the U.S., it has grown in popularity since the late 1970s. Sushi, often mistaken for its counterpart “sashimi”, which is sliced raw fish, is actually a sweetened vinegared rice usually combined with other ingredients, including raw fish. While this delicacy is now enjoyed worldwide, there is also growing concern about the risk of infections from consuming raw fish. Should I avoid sushi? The risk of eating raw or undercooked fish in the U.S. is very small, with fewer than 10 cases of Anisakis infection diagnosed each year (although many cases are likely unreported). In addition, the FDA has provided several guidelines for retailers who sell fish intended to be eaten raw. These guidelines include freezing the

fish to -31°F for 15 hours or -4°F for 7 days to kill parasites and physical examination known as “candling” for the presence of worms. The good news: According to Phillip Spiller, former director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Seafood, generally, seafood is very safe to eat. He says that on a pound-for-pound basis, seafood is at least as safe as other meat sources. But he adds that no food is completely safe. The bad: If you do encounter raw fish parasites, the effects can range from mild discomfort to severe illness, depending on the type of worm you ingest, according to the Environmental Nutrition newsletter. If the culprit is a tapeworm, fluke, or flatworm, you may not even know it until it passes out in your stool. Or you might experience nausea, cramps, and diarrhea.


© Elaine Schmidt 2007

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when

Pollution

attacks Local Agencies Can’t Limit Train Emissions, Court Rules September 16, 2010, By Carol J. Williams, LA Times Air quality watchdogs in Southern California can’t impose limits on emissions from idling trains because they could interfere with interstate commerce that the federal government regulates, a federal appeals court ruled. The decision dealt a blow to attempts by air quality regulators in the Los Angeles region, who have been attempting to limit emissions in the densely populated areas around San Pedro Bay ports, through which 40% of the nation’s containerized cargo flows. Emissions from trains, trucks and ships carrying the freight out to the rest of the country have been blamed for 2,100 early deaths each year, according to statistics from the California Air Resources Board. T he U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a previous decision from the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.The lawsuit filed by the Assn. of American Railroads and the BNSF and Union Pacific railroad companies challenged restrictions imposed in 2005 and 2006 by the South Coast Air Quality Management District, which covers Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Residents and social justice organizations have been particularly active in protesting railroad pollution in the San Bernardino rail yard area, judged by the resources board to present the most acute health risk among California’s 18 most polluted rail hubs.


T he U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a previous decision from the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The lawsuit filed by the Assn. of American Railroads and the BNSF and Union Pacific railroad companies challenged restrictions imposed in 2005 and 2006 by the South Coast Air Quality Management District, which covers Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Residents and social justice organizations have been particularly active in protesting railroad pollution in the San Bernardino rail yard area, judged by the resources board to present the most acute health risk among California’s 18 most polluted rail hubs. In cities along the Los Angeles river corridor, activists have taken aim at diesel pollution from four rail yards, including BNSF Railway’s Hobart facility, the world’s busiest “intermodal” yard, which transfers 1.2 million containers a year between trucks and trains. Diesel exhaust from trains and trucks is blamed for high cancer rates in several cities along the corridor. But the air quality district’s rules are preempted by the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act of 1995, which says state and local laws cannot unreasonably burden interstate commerce, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit said in its ruling.The judges noted, however, that the local air quality district’s rules could eventually gain the force of law if incorporated into the state’s environmental regulations and approved by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. “Obviously, we’re disappointed in the result,” Kurt Wiese, said. “The board has been committed to making sure that railroads shoulder their fair share of cleaning up the air .” © Science with Mr. Milstid 2009

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© Gavin Schaefer 2007


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